Nevada Struggles to Provide Dental Care in Rural Areas
All 17 counties in Nevada are federally designated as health professional shortage areas (HPSAs), 69 of those are also dental HPSAs. This leaves more than 70% of Nevada’s residents with limited access to professional oral healthcare services. Decades of rural oral practitioners leaving Nevada have led to shortages, with four counties lacking any licensed dentists and six having fewer than 10. The 2022-2032 Nevada Oral Health State Plan proposed improvements, emphasizing support for health centers and rural clinics, yet few actions targeting rural disparities have been implemented. Though the legislature approved dental therapists’ scope of practice in 2019, it falls short compared to successful programs in other states. Rural communities need more dental services, and despite a publicly funded dental school, a stronger pipeline into rural areas is lacking. Long-term solutions may include loan repayment and tuition grants for oral health professional students who are willing to practice in rural areas. Click here to read more.